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Remembering Sam Hancock

In sharing the announcement below from the Perth Disc Golf Club, the ADG board extends its condolences to the Hancock Family in the recent passing of Sam Hancock. Many disc golfers may not appreciate the legacy left by the Hancock Family in disc sports overall. Not just through their son Rob, but in the way they nurtured a generation of young frisbee players who have gone on to impact flying disc sports in Australia over four decades. That legacy extends beyond a love of flying disc sports to a spirit of respectful and fair competition, generosity, and inclusiveness that we hope will always signify our game.

Perth Disc Golf Club

Today it is with sadness that we announce the passing of Mr Sam Hancock, father of Rob Hancock. If our sport of Flying Disc had a number one ticket holder it would certainly have been Sam.

Since Rob’s passing in the early eighties Sam and his family have continued to actively support the sport and its players. He proudly attended the Rob Hancock Memorial Golf Tournament every year and presented the winner with their trophy.

Sam would always greet you with a big smile and a friendly handshake from which there was no escape until he found how you were and what you were doing.

Born in 1921, Sam would been 99 this November.

– Orphaned childhood

– 71 years of marriage

– 5 beautiful children

– Pilates at 96

– Tennis until 97

– Driving until 98

He was a truly remarkable man who touched many lives and will be sadly missed. To his family we offer our love and support in this difficult time and to Sam we say thank you and celebrate a life well lived.

Kim Holmes

“It always struck me what an influence Sam and Margaret were on Rob Hancock. I could see a lot of Rob in both of his parents: they were very social people and had a lot of conscience about giving to the community. They were people’s people and always looking out for others. They were very hospitable – the house in East Vic park was basically an open house. You could turn up on short notice and be given a bed and something to eat – similarly Rob was welcoming to people in the frisbee community.

 Sam had the competitive spirit in spades – still playing tennis in his 90’s. Competition was always friendly and never had an edge to it. He had a very well-rounded competitive attitude. That influenced Rob as well which in turn had a lot to do with the spirit of the early WA flying disc community.“

Kris Kohout

“Sam was our link to the beginning of the sport in those days. Without any of the older guys around in 2008 besides Kim, the Rob Hancock memorial was almost unconsciously added to the calendar. When we reached out to Sam and Margaret to it felt like we’d made a connection to our past. Every year that Sam came to the tournament newer players would come up and say ‘is that Sam Hancock?’ and they made the connection to Rob’s legacy too. He also found a quiet moment to palm off a $100 bill ‘for the club’ and he’d say ‘keep doing what you are doing’.“

Chris Himing

“A sad day.  I first met Mr.Hancock (Sam) while traveling to Perth as a 15 year old with his school teacher son Rob.  Rob would drive a few of us Newton Moore SHS students to Perth on weekends just to play frisbee.  We would all stay at the Hancock’s family house in Victoria Park.  Never a nicer family we could have asked to meet and welcome us into their home.

Rob was taken from us way too early but Sam and his family still continued to be there for us all these years later.

Sam you were a true gentleman, and I am proud to say you and your family were a big part of my life.  Rest in Peace Sam.  We will never forget.”

Chris Finn

“Looking at the old photos of Sam today I just felt respect, connection, thanks, sorrow, and happiness. Super happy I got to spend time with such an amazing character. I never met Rob but I sure loved Sam and I expect Rob was just as alive and passionate. The path led by Rob and then through the 78’s led me to the sport and now I fill my days passing it further. I owe a lot to Sam.”

Corey Bandy

“As a club we decided that it was a great idea that we hold the memorial for Rob Hancock in its early days. I remember the first day Sam came down and walked around introducing himself to everyone. He was so excited that someone was still playing frisbee and disc golf – remembering that he had helped set up the course. He stayed the whole day, walking the first few holes back and forth. He was really interested in how everyone was going.

He brought down a whole lot of discs from his personal collection to hand out as trophies – I’ve still got the disc he gave me. It holds pride of place. It’s a HDX-61. That day was still one of my best days ever playing disc golf. It gave us a club, which was still very much in its infancy, a real push to keep developing the sport. It’s something I’ll never forget. Through the timeline there’s just a few a few memories that stick – and this one stays as one of the most positives ones. “

Adelaide Park Lands Disc Golf Course

The biggest story in Aussie Disc Golf this year

In 2020, this is really saying something, but the biggest story in Australian Disc Golf this year is one we haven’t told yet. The creation of the Adelaide Park Lands Disc Golf Course is a major step forwards for Disc Golf in South Australia and the game in Australia as a whole. Yet this story has remained in the shade until now because of the relentless news cycle this year that kept bumping it off the ADG media’s equivalent of the front page. Apparently there has been a virus.

Why the Adelaide Park Lands Disc Golf Course is such an important development

It comes down to how people actually take up a sport like disc golf. Because we love the sport we can succumb to the illusion that others will automatically love it too. All we need to do is promote it right? Unfortunately, if that were true then all we’d need is a bunch of – ‘Disc Golf! It’s Awesome!  – bumper stickers and the sport would grow on its own. No, Disc Golf isn’t for everyone, but at the rate the sport is growing it’s clearly for someone: that person out there who is looking for just that right mix of outdoor activity, athletic test, mental challenge, social connection and aesthetic pleasure that our game provides. The trick is – giving them the chance to see it.

Back in the days before most Aussie Disc Golfers had access to a course in their community it was remarkable how many of our players had been given their first exposure to the sport in Queenstown, New Zealand. Indeed, one of our game’s super-spreaders here, Andrew Ferguson, first saw Disc Golf on a snowboarding trip to Queenstown. The course there is on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and a few hundred metres from downtown. In Adelaide, it’s barely a 20-minute walk from the Rundle Mall to Ityamai-Itpina (King Rodney) Park, otherwise known as Park 15. Lots of people are going to see it; including that person who disc golf is just right for. Having a Disc Golf Course that is so accessible to a broad range of people will also show how this gentle, fun and social activity can be of measurable benefit to a community.

It’s all in a name. Ityamai-Itpina

William Light, the Malaysian born ex-British navy Commander, who had been appointed Surveyor-General of the new province of South Australia, was about 150 years too early to be a disc golfer. But the well-travelled seafarer, warrior and artist had seen enough of the crowded, filthy cities of post Napoleonic Europe to know the value of public open space and recreation. One of the three Kuarna elders he negotiated with for the use of the land around what they called ‘Tartanya’ (red kangaroo place), was Ityamai-Itpina. If you are wondering how to pronounce it, have a listen. There are very few cultures in the world who don’t use patronymic naming (eg Ferguson – son of Fergus etc) and the Kuarna are one of them – they name themselves after their children when they are born; which, when you think of that for a moment, is a beautiful idea. So Ityama-itpina means ‘Ityama’s Dad.’ To the colonists he was known as King Rodney.

A Disc Golf Course in the Community

Any disc golfer visiting Adelaide would immediately note the lush parklands that surround the city and have their thoughts drift in the only logical direction, which is, ‘this place would make a great course’. Some may be surprised to know that the course in Ityamai-Itpina Park wasn’t the first. Neil Williams, who ran the SA Recreation Association at the time, had arranged with the City of Adelaide to install a 9-hole course with permanent poles and concrete tee pads in Bonython Park in early 1980’s. After being popular in its early years the course fell into disuse and was removed by a new council regime that was concerned with public liability. Neil and Mark Powers also made other temporary courses around Adelaide at the time in places like Noaralunga.

“It took us 6 years but we finally did it.” Said Adelaide Disc Golf Club founding member Andrew Simpson. “Right from when (now ADG President) Luke Turnbull created the club, I remember that the goal was always to create a free to play course in the Adelaide vicinity. Todd Brooks, was a massive support and served as president while we built our relationship with council. Gareth Morgan and Jonathan Dragt were also key in helping apply for grants and continue the momentum from the foundations that Todd and I had laid.”

The relationship with Julia Wallace at the City of Adelaide was key. She had the foresight to understand the benefits that Disc Golf could provide in activating public spaces. As many councils in Australia are now discovering, disc golf puts positive, active people in parks, providing passive surveillance and social benefit as they do. A spot was found on West Terrace but this area proved to be unsuitable due to the existence of rare grasses in the area and the fact the it wasn’t zoned for recreation.

Then, in 2018, Ityamai-Itpina Park was put forward by the council as a suggested site. The SA Open was held in the park that year, using temporary baskets on holes that have now become part of the permanent course. A come and try day was also held with the support of the council and based on the success of this, a grant was provided for eight more similar days and the purchase of 100 discs.

The initial proposal for the course was for the Adelaide Disc Golf Club to own the baskets but this created complications for the insurers. Eventually a solution was reached where the council funded half the baskets and the club donated the other half. Another issue was the directive that no permanent infrastructure is to be built in the Adelaide Parklands. To comply with this the baskets were installed in sleeves so that they can be removed for major events. The fixed baskets were installed in May this year under a 5-year trial agreement. The result is a par 28 9-hole challenge with a surprising amount of elevation change that cleverly uses the creek lines and a 100 year old olive grove to create some tight fairways.

Since the installation (with the help of SA company Ausdiscs), the Adelaide Park Lands Course has proven to be extremely popular. Currently the second most played course in Australia according to the international website, Disc Golf Metrix, the course has been played close to 2000 times both casually and in competition. The small band of existing Adelaide players have been joined by many newcomers and a bunch of travelers and expats who picked up the game overseas and have been delighted to find a local course. The Adelaide Disc Golf Club which is based at the course has also gone from strength to strength and has had more than 40 players at its last two league days.

“It’s a great casual and competitive sport, great source of exercise and a new way to experience the beauty of the Adelaide Parklands. I can easily take my young son out with me and my friends for a round, and finish at the playground next door.” Says local business owner Thomas Rodan. “Disc Golf  caters to players of all skills and is very inexpensive to play. I like disc golf in the parklands because of its accessibility and ease of use. The community is welcoming and the sport’s impact on the environment is low, which is great when considering its implementation in urban green areas.”

Another local who lives opposite the course, Chris Harris, said “I was out walking the parkland, when the SA Disc Golf Club was inserting the tees and baskets for the 9-hole golf course. I asked what they were up to and one if the club members explained about disc golf. I have been hooked ever since and it couldn’t have come at a better time because I suffer with stress and anxiety, the sport really helps calm me. I congratulate the council for allowing the club to put the course in.”

“As a stay at home dad looking for an excuse to take my young daughter out and about the Adelaide parklands disc golf course has been amazing!” Says Ben Foley. “It’s so easy to access by bus or car and is such a nice way for my daughter and I to spend a morning or afternoon walking around the parklands before stopping for a play and snack in the neighbouring playground. It’s also been so helpful to stay connected to all my friends in a way my daughter can participate in. “

Anna Kolodina. Picture – Kingsley Flett

Anna Kolodina has been playing for a year and a half. “What I love most about this course is the fact that the holes can be technically challenging, especially the ones with lots of olive trees, so it feels more satisfying when you get it right. I like disc golf because it is a mental challenge. It takes a lot of practice to get the hang of it but that makes it more worthwhile when you see progress. It’s also great to be out in nature, and good to hang out and meet a bunch of nice people. It’s a great social sport but you’re not relying on anyone but yourself. I encourage everyone to give it a go.”

Sincere congratulations from everybody in Australian Disc Golf to the City of Adelaide, The Adelaide Disc Golf Club and its committee members past and present for the creation of this outstanding facility that will serve the community of Adelaide and the sport of Disc Golf in Australia in the coming years.

Durand Wins QLD Championships

Story – Kingsley Flett. Pictures – Tim Marchbank

Michal Durand – picture by Tim Marchbank

If you have a  quick scan down the results page for the 2020 Queensland Disc Golf Championships you’ll notice something quite unique – the 31 novice players that contributed almost half the record field of 64. It’s a tangible sign of the recent explosion in disc golf participation in the sunshine state.

‘We had 14 more than our biggest ever year’ said Tournament Director Rhys Kruger. ‘It’s a record attendance for the event, which is pretty good considering the borders are closed and all but one were local players.’

Rhys Kruger was also pleased at the big number of novice players in the event. ‘It’s usually pretty difficult to convince novice players to step straight into a 2-day state championship. But it just shows how keen most of the new players are. Our furthest travelled player was Nicholas Greg from Townsville. One of the novice players, Nick Halstead, I’d only convinced to play five days before and he ended up one-throw off the win in second.”  

The big story of the day though, was provided by someone who was playing novice only four years ago himself. Michal Durand played his first round of disc golf in Augusta Georgia USA, some years ago, but it wasn’t until after his dad returned to Queensland in 2015 that Michal was convinced to play the league days at Yeronga. A steady climb through the ranks had him making to decision to play open this year. The result, in only his second tournament as an MPO player, was quite unexpected.

“I’m a bit blown away” he admitted the day after. “I’m still processing it. I never thought I’d be taking a win this weekend or be the QLD champion – I was going to play the best as I could and be happy with whatever the outcome was.  I started the event in the mindset of turning up and focusing on playing good golf. I always think about its just me vs the course and being able to maintain that focus was key.”

On life in the top card he said “I always was looking up to the open players. When I made the call to play open my goal was to grow and learn from the people who inspire me. Apart from my Dad, who got me into disc golf, the people I really have to thank are Rhys (Rhys Kruger), BJ (Brian Clevenger) and Gavin (Gavin Cowan) for shaping me as a player. Over the whole weekend all my fellow competitors supported each other and that was special to me.”  

After a windy day one which played havoc with the scores. Michal went into the final round one throw back from leader Aaron Moreton. The turning point came after the pair had matched each other in birdying 4 out of the first 5 holes. Moreton threw his drive on the par-5 hole six into an early tree and defected into the water. The two-throw swing gave Durand the lead and, although Moreton was able to level again after birdying hole nine, he was unable to match Durand birdying 3 out of the last 7 holes.

Michal Durand. Picture – Tim Marchbank

“Sinking my last putt was such a mental release of relief” Said Durand. “We all felt for Aaron when his drive kicked into the water on hole six. But I guess there were a lot of unlucky moments on the card – clean putts pushing through the chains or bouncing out of the basket etc. But the spirit on the card was great, we all we all picked each other up when unlucky moments happened and pushed on. The on the other hand it’s amazing to share moments of brilliance with people on your card.”

Durand credited his forehand for much of his success in the event. “It felt pretty faultless all weekend.” He said. “In round one I lost my favourite ballista pro. I went long on a hole and sent it 120+ metres into the river. But otherwise I felt really consistent. I threw the 4th Circle Dingo and the Firehawk a lot over the weekend. Rhys Kruger has done such a great job with those discs.”

The spirit shown on the top card seemed to extend to the whole event. “Without the community and dedicated people helping each time we would not have this event.” Said Durand. “I’d really like to thank all the people who were there with us each day setting up and packing up, and to Rhys for such a great event.“

“It was a little tough running an entire event just on metrix with no physical scorecards.” Said Kruger afterwards. “But the players were very patient to get it working which made things easier. So many people had an amazing time.“

Other winners from the tournament were

MA1 – Abraham Garfield

FA1 – Natalie Jones

MA40 – Bradley Adams

MA50 – Russell Wolf

MA2 – Aaron Cuerel

MA4 – Luke Bayne

FA4 – Mikayla Haka

MJ15 – Archer Shaw